Advanced Brain Surgery Techniques Improve Outcomes

By Jonathan A. Engh, MD
Lexington Medical Center Brain Tumor Program

Brain surgery is essential, and even life-saving, to the care of many patients with brain tumors or other brain conditions. However, it is not without substantial risk. One of the central principles of medicine is “primum non nocere,” or “first do no harm.” It’s a reminder that our interventions for disease may cause injury to a patient, and that we must avoid injury whenever possible.

Few interventions in medicine are more potentially dangerous than brain surgery. Stroke, hemorrhage and infection are just a few of the potentially devastating complications that can harm a patient or even lead to death. At Lexington Medical Center, we utilize on specialized techniques, not widely used at most medical centers, to reduce the risk of brain injury from tumor surgery.

Awake craniotomy is a specialized method of brain tumor surgery in which the patient remains awake and alert during surgery. While being kept comfortable, the patient can talk, move an extremity of interest, or name objects on a screen. This allows the neurosurgeon to track patient’s motor function and speech in real time during the operation.

It is critical that the entire operating room team be specially trained in this technique in order for it to be successful. Otherwise, the patient can be more prone to problems like breathing complications or seizures in the operating room. Lexington Medical Center has a dedicated team that specializes in awake craniotomy for brain tumors. Using this technique allows us to work in functional regions of the brain while keeping track of the patient’s neurologic state. As a result, we can remove brain tumors that would otherwise not be safely removable.

Minimally invasive port surgery is another specialized technique utilized to prevent injury in the operating room at Lexington Medical Center. Using a small, cylinder-shaped retractor, the neurosurgeon can access deep brain regions with less disruption to the surrounding brain tissue. With this technique, patients with deep brain tumors and tumors in the fluid system of the brain (intraventricular tumors) can have successful surgery and achieve relief of their symptoms while minimizing the risk of being injured during their operation.

To learn more about the Lexington Medical Center Brain Tumor Program, visit www.lexingtonbraintumor.com.

Help for Ear Wax

Brian K. Heaberlin, MD, is a doctor at Lexington ENT & Allergy, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. In the video below, he answers a question he says he hears all the time — what are the best and safest ways to eliminate ear wax?

Free COVID-19 Screening Lexington on Tuesday, July 28

At the request of Senator Katrina Shealy, Lexington Medical Center and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control are working together to provide free COVID-19 testing at Willow Ridge Church, located at 104 Sycamore Tree Road in Lexington, on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Individuals do not need to have symptoms and no appointments are necessary, but patients must have a valid ID and wear a face mask. Clinicians will administer the tests in a drive-thru format. Patients do not need to get out of their cars.

Testing for COVID-19 involves a nasopharyngeal swab, where a clinician places a special 6-inch cotton swab up both sides of the nose and rotates it around for about 15 seconds. DHEC is providing the kits and processing the testing.

Lexington Medical Center has held free COVID-19 screenings at White Knoll High School in Lexington, Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, Batesburg-Leesville Elementary School, Schumpert’s IGA in Pelion, Irmo High School, Lexington High School and Chapin High School. More than 4,900 people received screenings at those events.

Lexington Medical Center and DHEC are thankful for the support of the Midlands community throughout the coronavirus pandemic as they work to keep everyone healthy and safe.

Further questions about testing should be directed to DHEC at www.scdhec.gov or (803) 898-3432.